RAB, REGIONS 2 & 6, ALBANY N.Y. 2008

Apr 17, 2008 at 03:51 AM

RAB 2008 Regions 2 & 6, Albany

This year’s combined Regions 2 & 6 Regional Advisory Board convened on April 11th and 12th in Albany, New York.  Friday was devoted to informational and educational workshops.  These were created by NABET Staff Representatives Bill Murray, Carrie Biggs-Adams, Eric Seggi, and Lou Fallot.  Sector Vice President, Jim Joyce, filled in for Sector President, John Clark, and CFA, Dan Mahoney, both of whom could not attend because of illness.

Carrie Biggs-Adams opened with a succinct presentation of NABET-CWA’s position on passage of the Employee Free Choice Act.  It is critically important that all working class Americans support this legislation and encourage their Congressional Representatives and Senators to pass this bill.  The EFCA will allow workers to apply for union membership simply by signing a card requesting representation.  EFCA will do away with the need to petition the NLRB for union representation; it will do away with the balloting process; it will eliminate the distressful company meetings that force workers to listen to anti-union propaganda; and, most importantly, a clock starts ticking that puts a one-year time limit on settling a “first” contract.  Companies will no longer be able to drag negotiations out while freezing wages and benefits knowing that workers don’t have time on their side.  Please lobby your legislators to support the Employee Free Choice Act.

Carrie also spent considerable time discussing NABET-CWA’s alliance with several other large labor unions to pass a Universal Health Care Plan by 2010 with implementation by 2012.  The immediate goal is to cover the youngest and oldest segments of society first with full implementation for everyone as soon as possible.  This will be a major topic of discussion at this year’s CWA National Convention with a push to get as many members as possible politically involved in the process.  The “bottom line” on EFCA and universal health care is that members can no longer be apathetic while waiting on the side lines for someone else to solve of their problems.

Carrie’s presentation dovetailed neatly into Bill Murray’s presentation on COPE (Committee on Political Education).  This is a program we have all heard about before but can’t ignore any longer.  Big corporations across America, including the NAB, spend millions every year on political propaganda and lobbying to get the legislation and favorable rulings they want.  That is how they bought an FCC favorable to their point of view, an NLRB that favors management over workers, deregulation of all kinds of industries including broadcasting, relaxed multimedia ownership rules, Parkervision, hubbing, etc.  The financial resources of America’s corporations far outstrip those of America’s unions.  Money donated to COPE allows NABET-CWA to take our message to the politicians who can help us, especially politicians that we have supported and elected to office.  Hammering our message home keeps them focused on our needs and lets them know that our support can be taken away as easily given.  This is not a Democrat/Republican issue.  It is an issue of who is willing to help us.  Money talks!  CWA is going to be asking for all our support.  One dollar a week ($52.00 annually) is CWA’s goal for every member.

Bill continued his presentation with a listing of NABET’s other political issues for 2008, which include a condemnation of President Bush’s proposed 56% reduction in Public Broadcasting funding, support of H.R. bill 5470 that would force satellite TV providers to carry local TV channels in all 210 markets they serve, and similar legislation to force cable providers to carry local TV channels.

Jim Joyce gave a presentation on BURST activities.  CWA NETT Academy along with BURST has purchased 10 new DELL computers for the BURST Mobile Lab along with updated Avid software.  Final testing of the new computers and software is in the final stages.  The new lab should be deployed sometime this summer.  After sending a letter directly to CWA President, Larry Cohen, requesting training assistance, a reply came from Kevin Cellata of CWA NETT Academy that Local 42 is at the top of the list for getting the new lab.  Local 42 is still eligible for funding assistance from the Sector.  BURST is also looking into purchasing multi-user licensing agreements for online computer training with an internet service, Lynda.com, which provides a wide array of training programs including many in the communications industry.  BURST also plans to fund a program that will train nonlinear editing instructors to utilize the mobile lab.  The only caveat is that successful candidates be willing to travel to sites outside their own city.  The proposed Final Cut Pro lab has been put on hold for the time being.

Carrie Biggs-Adams came back with a presentation begging locals to begin cultivating fresh talent for the next generation of organizers and leaders.  Apathetic members have too long been satisfied with the expectation that their needs will always be fulfilled by their current leadership.  The problem is that the leadership is aging rapidly.  Fresh, eager faces have to step up to the plate.  Members have to take an active roll in their union and their own personal futures.

Eric Seggi’s presentation dealt with correct and timely preparation of contract negotiations and ratification; the proper writing and submission of grievances; and, the preparation and submission of arbitration documents.  Eric’s clear and concise outline for the above will distributed at April’s E-Board meeting.

Carrie came back with the possible offer of a training program for new local officers that would be held in Washington over a long weekend.  More details will be forthcoming.

Saturday’s session began with reports from Regional Vice Presidents, Fred Saburro and Bill Wachenschwanz, on the activities of Regions 2 & 6.  These were immediately followed by individual reports from each local, which bear a thread of commonality for all of us working in the broadcasting industry.  They are laundry list of nagging disappointments: union busting, rising health insurance costs, automation in all its forms, video journalists, erosion of jurisdiction and seniority, hubbing, and, wages falling behind inflation.  Our problems are universal.

In the absence of John Clark and Dan Mahoney, Sector Vice President, Jim Joyce, gave their reports on the state of NABET-CWA, the Sector finances, local inventories, the upcoming Sector Conference and Convention in Las Vegas, and implementation of the new MUMS software for local officers.

NABET-CWA General Council, Steve Sturm, followed with a fascinating presentation of actual arbitration examples and their resultant rulings.  He also discussed recent changes in labor law and how they might affect NABET grievance and arbitration.  The most important change was last year’s NLRB “Kentucky River” ruling, which imposed a much broader interpretation of who a supervisor is.  The ruling, which is favorable to management, removes many employees from the category of being union members.  Basically, anyone who makes operational decisions or directs personnel can now be considered a supervisor.  This runs counter to the old classification that considered supervisors to be individuals who “hired and fired” or scheduled work assignments.  So far this has not affected NABET, but council is keeping a close eye on the matter.

The conference concluded with the annual “Nolan Scholarship Awards” for Region 2, which awards educational scholarships through a lottery to children of members who have applied.  The program has been so successful that Region 2 V.P., Fred Saburro has convinced Region 6 V.P., Bill Wachenschwanz, to set up a similar program in Region 6.

Adjournment came immediately after the scholarship presentations.  Next year’s combined RAB moves back to Region 6 in Minneapolis.

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